March 31

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Mar 31 - 3:31:1768 Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary
Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary (March 31, 1768).

“The late Company of ABIGAIL WHITNEY and DAUGHTER.”

In an extraordinary that accompanied the March 31, 1768, edition of the Massachusetts Gazette, Abigail Whitney advertised “a large Assortment of Goods” that she sold “at her Shop in Union-Street” in Boston. Like other eighteenth-century merchants and shopkeepers, she made an appeal to price, announcing that she sold her wares “quite low.” She also demonstrated the extent of the choices she offered consumers by listing dozens of items included among her “large Assortment of Goods,” from a variety of fabrics to curtains and quilts to items for personal adornment that included buttons, fans, and “Horn and Ivory Combs.” She further emphasized choice when she stated that she also stocked “many other Articles not mentioned.” Among the items she did list, Whitney explicitly connected some to current styles in London and throughout the British Atlantic world as a means of further enticing prospective customers concerned that they appear genteel to their friends and neighbors. For instance, she carried “newest fashion striped and flowered Lutestrings” to be made into garments. Given this array of marketing strategies, Whitney’s advertisement was not extraordinary at all, despite being published in a four-page extraordinary when Richard Draper needed more space for all the content he had compiled for the Massachusetts Gazette that week.

Whitney’s advertisement, however, was fairly unique given that she was a female retailer who advertised her participation in the colonial marketplace as supplier rather than a consumer. In urban ports, women comprised a significant proportion of shopkeepers, often more than a quarter of all shopkeepers according to other records from the late colonial period. Yet many chose not to advertise in the public prints; they were disproportionately underrepresented among the advertisements that filled and sometimes dominated the pages of colonial newspapers. Even though some of Whitney’s sister retailers did advertise in Boston’s newspapers they did not do so according to their numbers among the residents of the city.

Whitney herself may have chosen to advertise as the result of extraordinary circumstances. A short paragraph at the end of her advertisement, a fraction of the length of the list of the “Assortment of Goods,” called on “all Persons indebted to the late Company of ABIGAIL WHITNEY and DAUGHTER, to pay their respective Ballances speedily.” If they did not, the “surviving Partner” would initiate legal action. Abigail Whitney and Daughter had not been in the habit of advertising. The last (and only) time that an advertisement placed by anyone named Abigail Whitney appeared in newspapers published in Boston had been nearly ten years earlier when notices appeared in both the Boston-Gazette and the Boston News-Letter in December 1759. Those advertisements had a similar format, listing an extensive inventory of imported goods. Between March and July 1768, Whitney placed the new advertisement in the Boston Chronicle, the Boston Evening-Post, the Boston-Gazette, and the Massachusetts Gazette, but she did not advertise in newspapers again after that. Although she advertised rarely, Abigail Whitney’s advertisement testifies to the presence of women in the colonial marketplace as retailers, producers, and suppliers. They were familiar to colonists who walked the streets of Boston even if they maintained much less visibility in the pages of newspapers from the era. Whitney’s advertisement even reveals a partnership of female entrepreneurs, a partnership cut short when her daughter died.

Summary of Slavery Advertisements Published March 25-31, 1768

These tables indicate how many advertisements for slaves appeared in colonial American newspapers during the week of March 25-31, 1768.

Note:  These tables are as comprehensive as currently digitized sources permit, but they may not be an exhaustive account.  They includes all newspapers that have been digitized and made available via Accessible Archives, Colonial Williamsburg’s Digital Library, and Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers.  There are several reasons some newspapers may not have been consulted:

  • Issues that are no longer extant;
  • Issues that are extant but have not yet been digitized (including the Pennsylvania Journal); and
  • Newspapers published in a language other than English (including the Wochentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote).

**********

Slavery Advertisements Published March 25-31, 1768:  By Date

Slavery Adverts Tables 1768 By Date Mar 24

**********

Slavery Advertisements Published March 25-31, 1768:  By Region

Slavery Adverts Tables 1768 By Region Mar 24

Slavery Advertisements Published March 31, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Mar 31 - Massachusetts Gazette Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Massachusetts Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - New-York Journal Slavery 1
New-York Journal (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - New-York Journal Slavery 2
New-York Journal (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - New-York Journal Slavery 3
New-York Journal (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - New-York Journal Slavery 4
New-York Journal (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Gazette (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Pennsylvania Gazette Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie & Dixon] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (March 31, 1768).

**********

Mar 31 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (March 31, 1768).

March 30

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Mar 30 - 3:30:1768 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

“BLANKS of several sorts to be sold at [t]he Printing-Office.”

James Johnston, the printer of the Georgia Gazette, regularly inserted an advertisement indicating that he sold “blanks” at his printing office in Savannah. These printed forms, a mainstay of eighteenth-century job printing, came in many varieties for commercial and legal use. Although Johnston’s notice in the March 30, 1768, edition simply announced “BLANKS of several sorts to be sold at [t]he Printing-Office,” he usually ran a longer advertisement that listed the many forms readers could purchase: “bonds, bills of sale, mortgages, powers of attorney, bonds of arbitration, indentures, bills of lading, articles of agreement between masters of vessel and seamen, summonses, warrants, and attachments, for the court of conscience, summonses before justices of the peace, executions for the use of magistrates, [and] indico certificates.” Johnston concluded the list with “&c.” (the abbreviation for et cetera commonly used in eighteenth-century America), suggesting that he stocked or could print other blanks. The revenue generated from these forms supplemented the fees for subscriptions and advertisements for the newspaper as well as income from job printing the “Hand-Bills, Advertisements, &c.” promoted in the colophon of every issue of the Georgia Gazette in the 1760s.

While Johnston certainly hoped that readers would respond to his notice by purchasing “BLANKS of several sorts,” that may not have been the only reason he published this abbreviated notice in the March 30 edition. It ran on the final page as the last item in the first column, wedged between an estate notice for “Nicholas Cassiel, late of Augusta, merchant, deceased,” and the colophon. Johnston (or the compositor) may have ended up just shy of having enough content to fill the page and complete the issue. Given the printing technologies of the period, the most efficient solution would have been to set type for a one-line advertisement. This had the additional benefit of potentially enticing readers to become consumers of other printed goods beyond the newspaper in which Johnston printed the advertisement.

Slavery Advertisements Published March 30, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Mar 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

**********

Mar 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

**********

Mar 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

**********

Mar 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

**********

Mar 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

**********

Mar 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

**********

Mar 30 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (March 30, 1768).

March 29

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Mar 29 - 3:29:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

“He intends to open School … she will undertake to teach the Girls their Needle.”

In preparation for opening a school in Charleston, Daniel Stevens placed an advertisement in the March 29, 1768, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal. He advised “the Public, and his Friends in particular” that he would teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, establishing a curriculum that set his school apart from the “British Academy on the Green” that Osborne Straton promoted in another advertisement in the same issue. Osborne taught English, Latin, and French as well as drawing, “Poetry, Rhetoric, [and] Logic.” Instead of “Writing” and “Arithmetic,” he taught “Writing in the Mercantile and Law Hands” and “The various useful and practical Branches of the Mathematicks.” Straton implied that he welcomed only boys as “Day Scholars,” but he tutored “Gentlemen or Ladies” in their homes on selected afternoons.

Stevens, on the other hand, invited readers to send both boys and girls to his school, where he provided a more modest and practical education. To that end, his advertisement included a short section in which Katharine Stevens announced “that she will undertake to teach the Girls their Needle.” As Straton cornered the market when it came to a genteel education, Daniel Stevens offered a different sort of enhancement to his curriculum, an enhancement that readers who could not translate the Latin quotations sprinkled throughout Straton’s advertisement may have considered much more useful and important.

That enhancement depended on the contributions of Katharine Stevens, presumably Daniel’s wife (but possibly a sister, daughter, or other female relation). The wording of the advertisement presents the school primarily as Daniel’s venture, but Katharine likely acted as more than a mere assistant in the endeavor. Even if she did not teach the academic subjects, she did participate in the instruction of the female students. In the process, she also supervised the children at the school, contributing to good order within the classroom. Some parents of prospective students may have been reassured simply by Katharine’s presence, assuming that it signaled more care and attention than Daniel could deliver by himself.

Both the copy and the format of this advertisement position Katharine as subordinate to Daniel. He sought pupils for his school; she taught a gendered skill, sewing, to only some of his students, the girls. Yet that description likely belied a more equal partnership that guided this joint venture in both planning and execution. At the very least, Daniel Stevens relied on the contributions made by Katharine Stevens when marketing his (their?) new school. She provided instruction in an area that he did not possess skill or expertise, an addition to the curriculum intended to make the school more attractive to prospective students and their parents.

Slavery Advertisements Published March 29, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).

**********

Mar 29 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (March 29, 1768).